FEATURE | Matti Steinmann – the journey of the Finnish-German who could propel Hamburg back into the Bundesliga

At 23, Matti Steinmann’s Hamburger SV career has been long, unsuccessful and full on minor problems, including injuries. The Finnish-German midfielder was born in football-mad Hamburg in 1995, where he’s played for the club since 2009, apart from the season he spent on loan at Chemnitz and the season he spent at Mainz II. Steinmann has never really impressed enough to earn himself a place in the first team at HSV but was just recently brought into it by Christian Titz who managed him in the second string team, where he had a great season, contributing two goals and four assists in 19 games from midfield.

Since Titz took over from Bernd Hollerbach, Steinmann has been a key member of the squad and already has eight appearances for HSV. But who is Steinmann and what part can he play for HSV in the future?

“Depends on the league and the coach!” Swedish Hamburg-expert Filip Wollin said about Steinmann. He continues by saying that he would gladly see the midfielder earn a place in the team as that gives HSV’s academy some credit and appeal. But it’s all very unclear and depends on the coach. Now that Titz has stated that he’ll stay at the club, regardless of league, it seems like Steinmann could stay as well. So, let’s take a look at the strong midfielder who has impressed in his eight Bundesliga games so far.

Standing at 6’2, Steinmann is an impressive figure to have in midfield. While he does have good passing abilities, his main attribute is his strength and ability to read the game. He often follows the ball, and intercepts well but also tends to work as a box-to-box midfielder. Whether this is Titz’ tactics or not, Steinmann has proven himself useful both in defence and in attack. The 23-year-old has the attributes needed for a defensive midfielder as he’s as good a tackler as any defensive pinecone in HSV’s deniable defensive structure, but one could say that he would be much better suited to a slower paced 2. Bundesliga than the hectic Bundesliga, a league where he would probably get run past a lot, just like he was against Eintracht Frankfurt the other weekend.

Steinmann is one of those players who would probably benefit from HSV going down. He can then become the main man in midfield and can make a name for himself, instead of having to trust Titz’ tactics and arguable experience in Bundesliga. He would get much more time, could be the key cog in a dominant HSV side before getting them promoted. He could then take the step up to Bundesliga as a 24-year-old experienced midfielder with many first team games under his belt.

As it is now, Steinmann is not good enough for the ideal HSV. However, no player at Hamburger Sport Verein is good enough for the ideal HSV, which is a team that belongs in the higher echelons of European football. But he is more than good enough for a top side in 2. Bundesliga and maybe, a plausible possibility for HSV if they somehow manage to hang on.

His time at 1. FSV Mainz 05 II seems to have contributed to a few things. Firstly, he has gained experience under a new coaching ideology which relies heavily on pressing. This has subsequently improved Steinmann’s aggressiveness, which is an important attribute for a defensive midfielder at a side like HSV. He is 23-years-old and unless he’s a late bloomer, we should soon see his peak years.

Having played at second team level all his career, this step up must have been a happy surprise for him. It’s a product of a good time a HSV’s second side as well as a struck of fortune as said second team’s manager was chosen to take over the club’s first team. This therefore meant that an array of young players was going to get involved. It’s very similar to Julian Nagelsmann’s tenure at Hoffenheim and what he’s done with Dennis Geiger, the young dynamic playmaker who is now often hailed as one of the main German prospects in Bundesliga. Titz has done the same thing. He has promoted Tatsuya Ito from the second team and he has promoted Steinmann. The problem and goal should now be to develop these two into good Bundesliga players. Time will tell if he can do it. However, time is also Steinmann’s main weakness.

By Axel Falk.


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